Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is it bad that I licked my knife?

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So, here’s the truth…We are ladies who LOVE to eat, but we are not necessarily ladies who love to cook. So when a restaurant quality meal is offered to us in the comfort of a cozy Manhattan apartment, we don’t need to be invited twice. We collectively jumped at the opportunity to experience culinary paradise in the home of Personal Chef Jason Ungar of Jason’s Kitchen.

Jason, 32, has been doing catering jobs and personal chef gigs for a number of years. As a self-taught chef, most of Jason’s inspiration comes from his travels, the culture of New York and, of course, the Food Network.

We picked the protein, lamb, and everything else was up to Jason’s creative palate!*

Let’s dig in to the first course: Anson Mills cheddar grit cake, quail egg, crispy chorizo, roasted poblano emulsion.

The presentation was lovely. The grit cake was coated with panko bread crumbs and lightly fried – so they were a very different consistency from typical “southern style grits” and made for a good sturdy platform for the goodness that Jason piled on top! And let’s face it – when is crispy chorizo ever a BAD thing?? The dish was savory and smooth and with a subtle hint of cheddar – really yummy!

SIDE NOTE. Our dear readers should know about how us Foodies In NYC members feel about egg and yolk. Danielle and Christa can slurp yolk through a straw they love it so much! Anne, on the other hand, usually sneers at the sheer mention of yolk. However, this quail egg was the star of the dish -- even for Anne. (“It was like a rich, creamy, buttery sauce that pulled the entire dish together – not at all how I think of yolk!”) (Check out the evidence ). The lesson here -- every once in a while, try food you don’t think you like -- you may end up surprised!

And for our entree: Za'atar crusted loin of Australian baby lamb, kalamata-kissed 'cassoulet' w/ white beans, fennel, and hen of woods mushrooms, with a roasted garlic-lemon-feta cream sauce.

Huge kudos to Jason for cooking the lamb to perfection! From what we are told (from those who cook), lamb is a tricky meat….very easy to overcook. NOT the problem here. Perfectly medium rare medallions of tender lamb sat atop a delish cassoulet (or bean “stew” with fennel and “hen of woods” shrooms). This dish was topped with the bliss that was the roasted garlic-lemon-feta cream. The sauce was so amazing – that we all took a last lick of the spoon before Jason sent the remainder of it sadly down the sink. Sigh………………..

Last was a very special treat from Marcy’s Morsels, a brand new boutique chocolatier based in Manhattan. (Note, we at Foodies in NYC firmly believe that no matter how full you are, there is always room for a little dessert, after all, it’s a totally different compartment.) Marcy’s signature chocolate is the Crispy Cluster -- a ball of dark chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallow and rice cereal. The Clusters are little tiny confectionary contradictions: they are sweet, but not too sweet and crispy – but also creamy thanks to the peanut butter! The Clusters came individually packaged so it was like opening a sweet, delicious little present!

Marcy’s Morsels are made to order and make a great treat for any gathering!

So in sum: we came; we ate; we loved. Thanks Jason (and his fabulous wife Randi) for an incredible evening!

*Note: FINYC subsidized the cost of all food!

To have Jason Ungar come cook for you – contact him @:
(917) 656-0456

To order from Marcy’s Morsels – contact Marcy @:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

FC Nibble: A Must Read at The Library Hotel Bar

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What it lacks in actual literary novels, The Library Hotel’s Bookmarks Lounge makes up for in its atmosphere, “bevies” and noshes which speak a thousand words. Sitting atop The Library Hotel on 41st and Madison is a quaint hotel bar on the 14th floor surrounded by the enormous art-deco and brick facades of New York’s concrete jungle. On one of the nicest days of the year so far, our small party (you can’t really bring a large group if you want to sit outside) sat in the garden area towards the front of the bar. Bookmarks is accommodating for larger groups as well with a large atrium in the back and an enclosed area with large plush leather chairs and a d├ęcor that helps give the venue its name.

Now, IMO*, the menu should be a New York Times bestseller. With drinks like their signature Bookmarker and The Aviator (with sloe gin, lavender and a lemon peel served up in a martini glass) and several other options, you won’t want to put it down! And the noshes were like the last 50 pages of a suspense novel (somewhat predictable but you keep going back for more). I would definitely recommend the calamari – very lightly fried and salted with that melt in your mouth consistency, three bites are enough – and also the cheese platter – the variety of cheeses with fruity chutney on a slice of toasted bread is like spring in your mouth.

Overall a great read from beginning to end - I would definitely recommend Bookmarks Lounge for any of my foodie (or book club) friends to add to their summer reading, I mean eating, lists!

(*IMO = In My Opinion, for our more seasoned food club members)

The Library Hotel
299 Madison Avenue & E 41st St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 983-4500